Unselfish decision rewarded

CINCINNATI – Reid Fragel knew what the hiring of Urban Meyer as the Ohio State football coach meant for him as a tight end. He also knew that meant he had to make a choice.

“When they came in they brought in the spread offense and I knew I wasn’t a spread tight end,” said Fragel. “I wanted to help our team at a tackle position that was in need of some guys so right from the start I told coach Meyer I wanted to move to tackle.”

No one knows what would have become of Fragel if he hadn’t made that decision but by taking that step he’s going to get a shot at playing in the NFL.

Fragel was selected in the seventh round by the Bengals Saturday, the 240th overall pick in the draft. Fragel had an idea the Bengals were going to pick him after offensive line coach Paul Alexander and assistant Kyle Caskey went to Columbus last Monday to work him out one last time.

“I had a feeling in my gut that Cincinnati was going to be the spot,” said Fragel. “I thought it might have been a little earlier. It came a little later than planned but I’m happy to be a Bengal. I’m very excited.”

Fragel was named honorable mention All-Big Ten last season. He was credited with 74 knockdowns and 10 blocks that resulted in touchdowns in his first season as a tackle. Of his 21 career starts for the Buckeyes, 12 of them came last season at tackle. Not too bad for a first year playing a position that required him to bulk up to 305 pounds. At 6-feet-8, it wasn’t that hard to do.

“He just kept growing and really was impressive strength-wise what he did at the Combine,” said Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis. “He’s just an impressive young prospect who’s still on the come, and we really feel like he’s a great addition to the football team up front.”

Fragel did 33 reps of the 225-pound bench press at the combine.

He fits right into the Bengals draft class; it’s a group full of players who have room to grow as players for one reason or another. For Fragel, it’s because he’s new to the position while bringing the athleticism of a tight end with his play. He’s going to see a lot of fellow rookie Margus Hunt, a 6-8 defensive end who has played just four seasons of football.

Hunt came to the United States from Estonia to compete in track and field. The Bengals selected him in the second round out of Southern Methodist University.

“We’ve got some good-looking big kids, and that’s a good thing,” said Lewis. “You’ve got to have big, physical people up front, and we got that. We got guys with great looking legs and things like that; good developmental guys, as far as they can develop physically. That’s important for us to keep on those guys because this is a game for big, strong, tough guys. You’ve got to have that and we got some more of those.”

Fragel was one of three offensive linemen the Bengals drafted on Saturday. They also took Tanner Hawkinson of Kansas, who is projected to play inside at guard and center, and South Carolina center T.J. Johnson 11 spots after Fragel. All three will have a chance to develop long-term.

“I think there is a lot of potential there and my best football is ahead of me, without a doubt,” said Fragel.